Jane Margaret Lakes Harman (born June 28, 1945) is the former U.S. Representative for California’s 36th congressional district, serving from 1993 to 1999, and from 2001 to 2011; she is a member of the Democratic Party. Resigning from Congress in February 2011, Harman became President and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She succeeded former Congressman Lee Hamilton and is the first woman to lead the 45 year-old “living memorial” to America’s 28th President.
Harman was born Jane Margaret Lakes in New York City, the daughter of Lucille (née Geier) and Adolf N. Lakes. Her father was born in Poland and escaped from Nazi Germany in 1935; he worked as a medical doctor. Her mother was born in the United States and was the first one in her family to receive college education. Her maternal grandparents immigrated from Russia. Harman attended Los Angeles public schools, graduating from University High School in 1962. She received a bachelor’s degree in government with honors from Smith College in 1966 and was Phi Beta Kappa. Harman continued her studies at Harvard Law School, earning her law degree in 1969. Harman married Richard Frank in 1969 and divorced him in 1980; later that year, she married Sidney Harman, 26 years her senior.
After graduating from law school, Harman began her political career in Washington, D.C., by serving as chief counsel and staff director for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights. She served in that position until moving over to the Executive Branch of government where she served as special counsel to the Department of Defense, and as Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet, both positions in the Carter administration.